Whether you’re an art lover, an aspiring artist, or just want to get out for some fresh air and explore the city, Southampton boasts quite the outdoor art scene. With several public art works dotted around the city, why not spend an hour – or two – with friends and family discovering them.
The BENCH project launched during lockdown to bring to life the precinct on Above Bar Street and to support local artists. When walking through the area, you'll find 16 individually designed benches along the precinct. Why not sit for a while and watch the world go by?
As you continue making your way down Above Bar Street towards the Marlands Shopping Centre, you may have noticed several flags strung up across the street displaying faces, each in their own distinct and unique styles. The cross-street flags, titled ‘Small Faces’ were originally part of a wider, experimental art exhibit organised by Southampton Solent University.
The project materialised after Southampton Solent University met with Gillian McIntyre, Adult Programme Co-ordinator and Kate Maple, Curator from Canada's Art Gallery of Ontario, where they discussed ways to dissolve barriers to engagement with art exhibits.
The Small Faces allowed Solent Showcase Gallery to take a big leap in becoming a participatory, socially engaged gallery. The exhibit was open to any and everyone who wished to create and guarantied that all pieces submitted would be exhibited. The project received an extraordinary 7,000 submissions of all walks of life. Discover the full story here.
In 2022, Southampton’s big belly bins received a city centre wide makeover following the success of the city's BENCH project. Thirteen designs by local artists were selected to be featured on the side of Southampton's smart bins, opening up the public realm once again for art to thrive.
Artists were asked to focus on a variety of areas, including Southampton’s Old Town, Cultural Quarter, Above Bar Street and city heritage. Designs feature many of the city's historic landmarks and buildings such as the Southampton Cenotaph, Mayflower Theatre, and green spaces such as East Park. Can you find them all?
It is elno_arts’s belief that art has power and can bring change to the community, the impact it can have on society, and the life it can ignite within individuals. These personal and community expressions show incredible love, enthusiasm and inclusion through art, which can be enjoyed and experienced by all.
One of elno_arts's pieces can be found on Westquay's external walls, as you make your way to Cosmo, along with several other artists including My Dog Sighs, Ricky Also and Samo White. Discover their stories and their work here. Is there any mural that stands out to you the most?
There are lots of murals in the city to be found, tag us on our Visit Southampton socials to share some of your favourites!
Over at the Marlands Shopping Centre, you will find a large-scale photo-realist mural depicting local 70s band the Ebony Rockers, who hit the music scene in 1979. The impressive wall mural was painted by local artist, Slam Daniels, as part of GO! Southampton, Solent Showcase Gallery, The Marlands Shopping Centre, and Don John, founder of Black History Month in Southampton, project to celebrate the culture and diversity of the city, and specifically the impact the Ebony Rockers has had on Southampton. Find out more here.
The Bulb, also known as Frobisher House, features the largest clean air mural in the UK, spanning over 1,000 square metres. The design which uses CO2 absorption paint is said to be able to absorb up to 65 kilograms of CO2 emissions per year. The colourful mural was chosen by the public through an online poll out of three designs created by French street artist Nerone. Did your favourite design get selected? You can learn more about The Bulb here.
Some walls really do have eyes, more specifically, Southampton's Winkle Street! As you walk around the city's Old Town, you may have found yourself wondering down Winkle Street, which runs behind Platform Tavern. Several small face sculptures can be seen dotted around the street's walls, sporting different expressions and colours. How many small face sculptures you can find?
The unique pieces were created by urban artist J_Ace, who has works placed in locations around the world including India, Paris, South Africa and Canada. If you're on a hunt to find them all, you'll want to also stop by God House Tower’s to try and find J_Ace’s golden 500th face.
As you approach Westquay, travelling up through Castle Way, you may have spotted two bright red telephone boxes as you pass by. But, these are no ordinary telephone boxes but the location of K6 Gallery, a permanent exhibition space which often showcases works by local and national creatives.
The two telephone boxes are led by volunteers since it's inception in 2015. Next time you are passing by, make sure to take a peek inside to see what's on display. Find out the latest here.
‘Courtyard Constellations’ is a colourful tiled courtyard commissioned by a space arts and Tiger Developments in honour of the site's stary skyed past. At the site of Southampton Crossings in Cumberland Place, now a local accommodation building for students, once stood an astronomical observatory. The courtyard is made up of over 1200 beautifully hand casted pieces, 11 of which are coloured to each represent a specific constellation.
Made out of 37 concrete and glass mosaic panels, the Hamtun Street Mural depicts key landmarks and historic events to celebrate the city’s diverse heritage. These colourful panels stretch across an impressive 19 meters and measures 3 meters tall. The piece was crafted by two talented artists Henry and Joyce Collins in 1978. The mural was originally displayed on the front of the Sainsbury's supermarket in Lordshill but was removed during store renovations. After 20 years in storage, the mural was restored and displayed once again in 2011 after being restored by ceramic artist Oliver Budd in 2011.
Crafted by artist Joanna Dewfall, the vibrant Southampton Mural 2013 captures the essence of the city's past and present. This colorful mural is adorned with a variety of imagery, each holding special significance to Southampton. From an anchor symbolizing the city's rich maritime heritage to a red and white scarf crowned with a halo, paying tribute to The Saints, the city's football club. The mural graces Castle Way, offering a striking visual narrative of Southampton's identity.
Defenders of the East Gate, a relief which can be found in the bricks of the social housing development by Orchard Homes, was created by Southampton based artists Chris Cudlip. The impressive piece commissioned by a space arts depicts two medieval blacksmiths and several contemporary instruments, representing the rich past and present history of the area. The site was the former home of the old medieval wall and Eastern gateway to the town between 1200 – 1765 and in recent years, the former alternative nightclub known as Nexus. Discover the full story here.
Photo credit: Kate Aries
In the city’s Old Town, off of Queensway and Barnard Street, lies a modern apartment building. What many may not know is that the site was formerly known as Southampton’s old Fruit Market: a popular post-war spot for wholesale foods. Before developers took on the project to convert the once bustling site, a space arts was approached to create a public art piece that would represent the site's rich past.
A space worked with Dan Rawlings who designed the steel installation, ‘Fruit Market’, as seen today. The public artwork retraces the former town wall which references the site’s location along Back of the Walls. You can learn more about the piece here or discover more about the former fruit market’s history here.
Photo credit: Simon Griggs
As you walk past ASDA and make your way towards Southampton's train station, you may have noticed three abstract figures standing at the top of Kingsbridge Lane. The tall metal figures depict a man, woman, and child which were created by American artist Danny Lane. The sculpture was named ‘Child of Family’ and was commissioned by Southampton City Council and British Rail Hampshire as part of the city’s environmental improvements in the area.
From Nemo to iconic superheroes, you’ll find small mosaic art pieces scattered around the city beloved by all. One of the most popular pieces in the series of colourful mosaics are recreations of the mr men and little miss book covers. These joyful tiled pieces were handcrafted by local artist Will Rosie, well known by the name Mr Mosaic.
Next time you're out for some shopping or an evening meal, make sure to keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot any. If you're keen to find them all, you can head over to the artist's official Mosaic Map for the most up-to-date locations of his works.
If you are interested in visiting a few pieces, GO! Jauntly, a free walking app, offers a Southampton Public Art trail which was created by MyJourney. The trail guides art enthusiasts around the city, exploring a variety of local sculptures and murals, starting off at Southampton Central Station in the heart of the city. So, if you have two hours to spare, download the app here and get walking!